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Explain how a physical property which varies with temperature may be used to define temperature scale and state examples of such properties. Explain the need for fixed points and state what is meant by ice point and steam point. Discuss the action of a thermocouple thermometer, showing an understanding of its use for measuring high temperatures and temperatures which vary rapidly.

It is a measure of how hot or cold a body is. A thermometer is used to measure temperature.

A thermometer makes use of a physical quantity which changes continuously with temperature.

Physical Quantity 1) Volume of a fixed mass of liquid.

Thermometer Mercury-in-glass thermometer Alcohol-in-glass thermometer

2) Electromotive force Thermocouple (e.m.f.) 3) Resistance of a piece Resistance thermometer of metal. 4) Pressure of a fixed Constant-volume gas mass of gas at constant thermometer volume.

It refers to the amount of thermal energy that is being transferred from a hotter region to a cooler region.

Temperature Scales
We have to invent a scale for our thermometer. All thermometers must be marked with a standard scale. To obtain a standard scale on a thermometer, two fixed points must first be marked on it. Ice point and steam point are the two fixed points for a Celsius scale.

The fixed points are chosen as a form of standardization. The fixed points will always be the same under given conditions so that each fixed point means the same temperature on all thermometers.

Anders Celsius

Ice Point
Ice point is the temperature of pure melting ice at standard atmospheric pressure and it is assigned a value of 0C.

Steam Point
This is temperature of steam from boiling water at standard atmospheric pressure. It is assigned a value of 100C.

The interval between the fixed points is divided into 100 equal parts. Each division is 1C.

Calculating Temperature
C = l - lo l100 - lo X 100

lo = height of mercury at 0C l100 = height of mercury at 100C l = height of mercury at temperature C

Worked Example
The length of the mercury thread is found to be 20 mm and 100 mm at 00C and 1000C respectively on an ungraduated thermometer. What is the temperature corresponding to the length of mercury thread of 40 mm ?

C = l - lo l100 - lo X 100

= (40-20)/(100-20) x 100 = 25C

General Equation
C = X - Xo X100 - Xo X 100

X can be any physical quantity (resistance, voltage, pressure, etc) Xo = height of mercury at 0C X100 = height of mercury at 100C X = height of mercury at temperature C

The Kelvin or Absolute Scale

The Kelvin or Absolute Scale

The unit for the absolute scale/ Kelvin scale is the Kelvin. The Kelvin (K) is the standard unit for temperature. 0K is the absolute zero of temperature, which in theory is the lowest possible temperature a substance can reach.

The Kelvin or Absolute Scale:

Relationship between Celsius scale and Kelvin scale: T/K = /C + 273 Example 1: The melting point of a pure substance A is 20C. What is the melting point in Kelvins?

Liquid-in-glass Thermometers
Mercury thermometers (Laboratory thermometers and Clinical thermometers) Alcohol thermometers

Laboratory Thermometer (mercury)

Clinical Thermometer (mercury)

Features of a Thermometer
We look into three areas: Responsiveness- How fast a thermometer can respond to a change in temperature. Sensitivity- Measures the amount of change in thermometric property (e.g. length of mercury column) per unit change in temperature. If we say that a thermometer is sensitive, it means that a small change in temperature will cause a big change in the length of the mercury column. Range- Able to measure a range of temperature.


Thermocouple consists of two different metals joined together to form two junctions. One of the junctions is kept in melting ice at 00C while the other one is used as a temperature probe. A voltage develops between the two junctions. Greater difference in temperature, greater voltage produced across the ends of the two junctions.

= e.m.f. produced = temperature difference between the reference junction and the probe The voltage can be calibrated directly in C.